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“How To Be A Happy Bachelor”: Singles’ Rights From the Male Perspective July 2, 2020

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
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The conversation about singles rights has traditionally been dominated by white cis hetero women. The singles advocacy community can benefit from the voices of single women of color (see Dr. Kris Marsh‘s work), single LGBTQA people, and single cis/hetero men. This post will focus on the latter. Historically, whereas single women have almost always been seen as deficient, single men at least had a chance of being seen as positive: the freewheeling, sexually engaged, George Clooney trope. Boring, but positive. Nonetheless, single men still need advocacy. They experience the same financial and legal discrimination that single women do, and moreover, there’s a dark side to the single man stereotypes that single women don’t generally experience: the loner/serial killer stereotype. As single women, Lisa and I have been accused of being: sexually repressed, sexually loose, emotionally disturbed, and selfish, but no one has ever suggested that if I were married I’d be less likely to murder people. This is, however, a common insinuation in rhetoric about male violent criminals (media pieces about violent offenders almost always use one of the terms “family man” or “loner” to describe the perpetrator).

My point is: Single men need their stories told in a positive way, and I’m delighted that Craig Wynne, singles advocate and self-proclaimed crazy cat guy, has taken on that mission. His new book “How to Be A Happy Bachelor” dismantles both the George Clooney and serial killer stereotypes and challenges negative representations of single men in the media. A blend of personal essay, reportage, and pop culture reviews, Wynne’s book reaches out to men whose lives and goals and inner monologs are shaped by toxic “hook-up culture.”

Wynne himself spent years struggling with such internalized singlism, before stumbling upon Bella DePaulo’s writings about relationship status discrimination.  Inspired, Wynne started his blog The Happy Bachelor, then developed it into the above-mentioned book How to be a Happy Bachelor.  While the book does contain material relevant to all genders, its primary focus is helping (cis/het) men be happy as singletons.  It shows them how to question popular but problematic notions of manhood (like the stress on “getting a girlfriend” or “getting a wife”), critique societal perceptions of singlehood, and be comfortable in their own skin. But again, ultimately all genders can benefit from the progressive anti-singlism advice offered here.

As an academic in the field of writing and rhetoric, Wynne is in the unique and privileged (and hard-won) position to be able to teach college students about singlism. Stay tuned for a follow-up post where we examine How To Be A Happy Bachelor through the eyes of his college students. . .

–Christina

Photo credit: Kendall Hunt

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